Planning a Letter/communication

This article is about planning of writing a letter/communication in the days of e-mail or electronics communication. But some of the points mentioned here is equally applicable to e-mail and other electronic communications where longer communications in details are sent as attachments to an e-mail or pasted in a website. That is why the planning aspects are mentioned here.

It is common experience that we plan ahead for all important matters. We do not leave things to chance. A party which has not been carefully planned annoys the guests and inconveniences them. A trip which is not well organized irritates and fatigues. An ill-planned letter/communication is no exception and is sure to arouse similar feelings in the reader. Planning is essential for letter/communication / communication writing too.

Every letter/communication is written to meet a particular situation. The plan of a letter/communication depends on the kind of situation writer are writing for. Many situations are relatively simple e.g. asking for a catalogue, quoting prices for one’s products, placing an order etc. These can be handled by more or less a set pattern of letter/communications with minor variations to meet specific requirements. But even such letter/communication should be planned carefully. By doing so, writer will be able to add grace and freshness even to routine correspondence. After some experience writer will find that the plan of a letter/communication comes to him/her without much effort but it is essential to picture the whole pattern of position before dictating or writing it. Remember that a letter/communication is often the only contact an organization has with the outside world. And on it depends the impression that writer create about him/her self and the organization.

Examine the following letter/communication by a firm in reply to an enquiry about transistors:

In reply to your letter of 4 August, 2006 we are sending herewith copy of our catalogue. We shall be able to supply immediately, the make, you wish to buy. We are waiting for your order.

A more thoughtful reply would be as follows:

Thank you for your letter of 4 August 2006. We are sending you a copy of our catalogue. On page 5 you will find the make you are interested in. You are most welcome to visit us any time during working hours (10am to 7pm) on week days and we shall be pleased to demonstrate its working without any obligation on your part to buy it. Its size, performance and price have made it very popular. We do hope that you too will love to have it.

There are three kinds of letter/communications:

The letter/communication writer initiates writing the letter;
The letter/communication writer writes in reply to another;
The letter/communications writer writes to follow up some communication (letter/communication memorandum, telephonic or telegraphic message, etc) If writer has initiated the correspondence.

A writer’s plan should take into account the following two factors:

1. Writer’s letter/communication must immediately arouse the reader’s interest in what writer says.
2. It should mention clearly what action writer wishes him to take.

In planning reply to a letter/communication writer must ensure that every point raised by the correspondent is dealt with. Anything writer adds must be related to what he wants. If writer wishes to say something entirely new and it is unconnected with the points raised by the correspondent, it is better to write another letter/communication.

Follow up are of two types:

1. To confirm a telephonic, telegraphic, or an oral message and
2. To remind the correspondent about something on which he has to take action.

The first type is simple and needs no special treatment. The second type should be written with great tact and courtesy for no one likes to be told that he is lazy or forgetful.